‘Tis the season for traveling! It’s that time of year for frequent travel to visit family and friends for the holidays. By car or by plane, extended travel can do a number on your body. Aside from fatigue, muscle stiffness can be one of the most common side effects of sitting still for long periods of time. Prolonged slouching, a likely position during travel, can also have harmful impacts on your spine. Before you pack your bags and hit the road, consider a few of the following ways to protect yourself in transit.
Get Moving – When you’re pressed for time, or crammed in an airplane, it can be easy to forget the magic of movement during travel. Taking even just a few minutes to stand or walk around can help to stimulate circulation and prevent stiffness. Whether you’re driving or flying, aim to take 3-5 minutes out of your seat at least every two hours.
Pack A Pillow – Having light support for your neck or back can help to prevent compression and stress on your spine. Pack a small pillow or neck wrap, especially on long trips to promote healthy posture and comfort.
Stretch – Frequent stretching during travel will help to stimulate muscles and ease tension. Stretching can also be a great way to incorporate subtle movement throughout your trip, in between standing breaks. Getting a good stretch on a plane or in the car can be easy, and doesn’t have to be intrusive to your neighbor. Try sitting straight with your feet flat on the floor and hands on your lap. With an inhale, arch your back, pulling your shoulder blades in together and chest out. On an exhale, tilt your head down and roll your shoulders forward, pulling into your chest. You should feel a slight release in your neck and shoulders. (Note: You should avoid heavy stretching while driving. Opt to take a break at a rest stop or alternate drivers if possible before executing).
Hydrate – Staying hydrated will not only keep your energy and focus sustained during travel, but will aid in preventing dry skin or eyes. Muscle stiffness can also be prevented with healthy hydration. Take advantage of refreshments offered on your flight or be sure to bring a water bottle along for the ride.